Ameren is implementing the integration between ArcFM Designer and SPIDAcalc to take advantage of a streamlined design process. Moving away from homegrown spreadsheets to a fully 3D tool to analyze distribution line designs will be a big step forward.
Increasing Design Efficiency with Structural Analysis Integration
Ameren Corporation powers 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers across Illinois. The utility undertook a replacement of its legacy computer-aided design (CAD)-based graphic work design tools to achieve strategic process improvements. Ameren wanted to modernize the manual design workflow to reduce errors, improve poor data quality, and save time.
Ameren produces a large volume of design work to keep up with system demands and expansion. For each job, a designer created a drawing in the CAD system. A certified electrical engineer then performed overhead construction structural analyses. The results of these manual computations were maintained in homegrown spreadsheets. These calculations were very labor intensive and required many hours by specialized engineers to complete.
Any design changes needed to satisfy the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) standards were manually replicated back to the CAD system and the spreadsheets. The process was often repeated as each job progressed through design, approval, as-built, and final approval. These manual processes created bottlenecks, introduced duplication of effort, and slowed progress by wasting valuable staff time.
Ameren chose Schneider Electric's ArcFM Designer to replace CAD because it fully integrates with its ArcGIS system of record. ArcFM is a world-class suite of utility-specific tools and applications to support asset management and graphic work design. It includes version control, reconciliation, approval, and posting functionality.
SPIDA Software's SPIDAcalc provides Ameren with industry-leading analysis. The overhead pole construction structural analysis tool supports load cases for extreme weather while conforming to national electrical code standards.
Ameren contracted Schneider Electric's GIS professional services engineering team to implement the core ArcFM and ArcFM Designer solutions and integrate them with SPIDAcalc. The integration provides a seamless data flow between the applications. It provides all the major functions of SPIDAcalc within ArcMap including analysis, export, import, and reporting.
The analysis function submits the design parameters to SPIDAcalc's CEE cloud analysis engine and returns the results to the add-in's dockable window. The export function allows the ArcFM Designer to be opened directly in SPIDAcalc, allowing higher fidelity modifications and leveraging all the inherent functionality. The import function automatically makes potential modifications available in ArcFM Designer. Finally, the reporting function generates the robust SPIDAcalc structural analysis report directly within the ArcMap session.
The manual, time-consuming, and error-prone replication process between systems was replaced with a few mouse clicks. The automation ensures increased accuracy and consistency, saving a tremendous amount of time for designers and engineers.
Designers are now producing better quality and more accurate designs. The value to the utility is multiplied by the large volume of design workload. Designers even accomplish additional important work with better collaboration in challenging design scenarios.
The improved tools enable engineers to concentrate their time on the most important and challenging scenarios, maximizing their contribution to Ameren. Design professionals and engineers alike appreciate the dramatic reduction in mundane tasks, enabling them to work at a higher level.